Part 3 out of 6
France--he, upon whom the gaze of all these emperors and kings was
fastened in admiration and respect. Napoleon's extraordinary memory had
just been the topic of conversation, and the emperor was about to
explain how he had brought it to such a state of perfection.
"While I was still a sub-lieutenant," began Napoleon, and instantly his
hearers let fall their gaze, and looked down in shame at their plates,
while a cloud of displeasure passed over the brow of the emperor of
Austria at this mention of the low origin of his son-in-law. Napoleon
observed this, and for an instant his eagle glance rested on the
embarrassed countenances that surrounded him; he then paused for a
moment. He began again, speaking with sharp emphasis: "When I still had
the honor of being a sub-lieutenant," said he, and the Emperor Alexander
of Russia, the only one of the princes who had remained unembarrassed,
laid his hand on the emperor's shoulder, smiled approvingly, and
listened with interest and pleasure to the emperor's narrative of the
time when he "still had the honor of being a sub-lieutenant."
[Footnote 21: Bossuet, Memoires, vol. V.]
Napoleon, as we have said, had already mounted so high that for him
there was no longer a summit to be attained, and now his heart's last
and dearest wish had been granted by destiny. His wife, Marie Louise,
had given birth to a son on the 20th of May, 1811, and the advent of the
little King of Rome had fulfilled the warmest desires of Napoleon and of
France. The emperor now had an heir; Napoleon's dynasty was assured.
Festivities were therefore held in honor of this event, in the
Tuileries, at the courts, of the Queen of Naples, of the Grand-duchess
de Guastalla, of all the dukes of the empire, and of the Queen
Hortense was ill and in pain; a nervous headache, that she had been
suffering from for some time, betrayed the secret of the pain and grief
she had so long concealed from observation. Her cheeks had grown pale,
and her eyes had lost their lustre. Her mother wept over her lost
happiness in Malmaison, and, when Hortense had wept with and consoled
her mother, she was compelled to dry her eyes and hasten to the
Tuileries, and appear, with a smiling countenance, before her who was
now her empress and her mother's happy rival.
But Hortense had accepted her destiny, and was determined to demean
herself as became her own and her mother's dignity. She endeavored to be
a true and sincere friend to the young empress, and fulfil the emperor's
wishes, and to give brilliant entertainments in honor of the King of
Rome, in spite of the pain it must cost her. "The emperor wills it, the
emperor requires it;" that was sufficient for all who were about him,
and it was sufficient for her. Her mother had gone because it was his
will, she had remained because it was his will, and she now gave these
entertainments for the same reason. But there was an element of sadness
and gloom even in these festivities of the carnival of 1813; the
presence of so many cripples and invalids recalled the memory of the
reverses of the past year. At the balls there was a great scarcity of
young men who could dance; incessant wars had made the youth of France
old before their time, and had converted vigorous men into cripples.
Her heart filled with dark forebodings, Hortense silently prepared
herself against the days of misfortune which she knew must inevitably
come. When these days should come, she wished to be ready to meet them
with a brave heart and a resolute soul, and she also endeavored to
impress on the minds of her two beloved sons the inconstancy of fortune,
in order that they might look misfortune boldly in the face. She had no
compassion with the tender youth of these boys, who were now eight and
six years old; no compassion, because she loved them too well not to
strive to prepare them for adversity.
One day the Duchess of Bassano gave a ball in honor of the queen, and
Hortense, although low-spirited and indisposed, summoned her resolution
to her aid, and arrayed herself for the occasion. Her blond hair, that
reached to her feet when unbound, was dressed in the ancient Greek
style, and adorned with a wreath of flowers, not natural flowers,
however, but consisting of Hortensias in diamonds. Her dress was of
pink-crape embroidered with Hortensias in silver. The hem of her dress
and its train was encircled with a garland of flowers composed of roses
and violets. A bouquet of Hortensias in diamonds glittered on her bosom,
and her necklace and bracelets consisted of little diamond Hortensias.
In this rich and tasteful attire, a present sent her by the Empress
Josephine the day before, Hortense entered the parlor where the ladies
and gentlemen of her court awaited her, brilliantly arrayed for
The parlor, filled with these ladies glittering with diamonds, and with
these cavaliers in their rich, gold-embroidered uniforms, presented a
brilliant spectacle. The queen's two sons, who came running into the
room at this moment to bid their "bonne petite maman" adieu, stood still
for an instant, dazzled by this magnificence, and then timidly
approached the mother who seemed to them a queen from the fairy-realm
floating in rosy clouds. The queen divined the thoughts of her boys,
whose countenances were for her an open book in which she read
She extended a hand to each of her children, and led them to a sofa, on
which she seated herself, taking the youngest, Louis Napoleon, who was
scarcely six years old, in her lap, while his elder brother, Napoleon
Louis, stood at her side, his curly head resting on Hortense's shoulder,
gazing tenderly into the pale, expressive face of his beautiful mother.
"I am very prettily dressed to-day, am I not, Napoleon?" said Hortense,
laying her little hand, that sparkled with diamonds, on the head of her
eldest son. "Would you like me less if I were poor, and wore no
diamonds, but merely a plain black dress? Would you love me less then?"
"No, _maman_!" exclaimed the boy, almost angrily, and little Louis
Napoleon, who sat in his mother's lap, repeated in his shrill little
voice: "No, _maman_!"
The queen smiled. "Diamonds and dress do not constitute happiness, and
we three would love each other just as much if we had no jewelry, and
were poor. But tell me, Napoleon, if you had nothing, and were entirely
alone in the world, what would you do for yourself?"
"I would become a soldier," cried Napoleon, with sparkling eyes, "and I
would fight so bravely that I should soon be made an officer."
"And you, Louis, what would you do to earn your daily bread?"
The little fellow had listened earnestly to his brother's words, and
seemed to be thinking over them still. Perhaps he felt that the knapsack
and musket were too heavy for his little shoulders, and that he was, as
yet, too weak to become a soldier.
"I," said he, after a pause, "I would sell bouquets of violets, like the
little boy who stands at the gates of the Tuileries, and from whom we
buy our flowers every day."
The ladies and cavaliers, who had listened to this curious conversation
in silence, now laughed loudly at this naive reply of the little prince.
"Do not laugh, ladies," said the queen, earnestly, as she now arose; "it
was no jest, but a lesson that I gave my children, who were so dazzled
by jewelry. It is the misfortune of princes that they believe that
everything is subject to them, that they are made of another stuff than
other men, and have no duties to perform. They know nothing of human
suffering and want, and do not believe that they can ever be affected by
anything of the kind. And this is why they are so astounded, and remain
so helpless, when the hand of misfortune does strike them. I wish to
preserve my sons from this."
[Footnote 22: The queen's own words.]
She then stooped and kissed her boys, who, while she and her brilliant
suite were driving to the Tuileries, busied their little heads,
considering whether it was easier to earn one's bread as a soldier, or
by selling violets at the gates of the Tuileries, like the little
THE DAYS OF MISFORTUNE.
The round of festivities with which the people of France endeavored to
banish the shadow of impending misfortune, was soon to be abruptly
terminated. The thunder of the cannon on the battle-fields of Hanau and
Leipsic silenced the dancing-music in the Tuileries; and in the
drawing-rooms of Queen Hortense, hitherto devoted to music and
literature, the ladies were now busily engaged in picking lint for the
wounded who were daily arriving at the hospitals of Paris from the army.
The declaration of war of Austria and Russia had aroused France from its
haughty sense of invincibility. All felt that a crisis was at hand. All
were preparing for the ominous events that were gathering like
storm-clouds over France. Each of the faithful hastened to assume the
position to which honor and duty called him. And it was in response to
such an appeal that Louis Bonaparte now returned from Graetz to Paris; he
had heard the ominous tones of the voice that threatened the emperor,
and wished to be at his side in the hour of danger.
It was not as the wife, but in the spirit of a Frenchwoman and a queen,
that Hortense received the intelligence of her husband's return. "I am
delighted to hear it," said she; "my husband is a good Frenchman, and he
proves it by returning at the moment when all Europe has declared
against France. He is a man of honor, and if our characters could not be
made to harmonize, it was probably because we both had defects that were
"I," added she, with a gentle smile, "I was too proud, I had been
spoiled, and was probably too deeply impressed with a sense of my own
worth; and this defect is not conducive to pleasant relations with one
who is distrustful and low-spirited. But our interests were always the
same, and his hastening to France, to enroll himself with all his
brother Frenchmen, for the defence of his country, is worthy of the
king's character. It is only by doing thus that we can testify our
gratitude for the benefits the people have conferred upon our
[Footnote 23: Cochelet, Memoires sur la reine Hortense, vol. i., p.
In the first days of January, 1814, the news that the enemy had crossed
the boundaries of France, and that the Austrians, Russians, and
Prussians, were marching on Paris, created a panic throughout the entire
city. For the first time, after so many years of triumph, France
trembled for its proud army, and believed in the possibility of defeat.
In the Tuileries, also, gloom and dejection ruled the hour for the first
time; and while, when the army had heretofore gone forth, the question
had been, "When shall we receive the first intelligence of victory?"
there were now only mute, inquiring glances bent on the emperor's
On the 24th of January, Napoleon left Paris, in order to repair to the
army. The empress, whom he had made regent, giving her a council,
consisting of his brothers and the ministers, as a support--the empress
had taken leave of him in a flood of tears, and Queen Hortense, who had
alone been present on this occasion, had been compelled to remain for
some time with the empress, in order to console and encourage her.
But Hortense was far from feeling the confidence which she exhibited in
the presence of the empress and of her own court. She had never believed
in the duration of these triumphs and of this fortune; she had always
awaited the coming evil in silent expectation, and she was therefore now
ready to face it bravely, and to defend herself and her children against
its attacks. She therefore was calm and self-possessed, while the entire
imperial family was terror-stricken, while all Paris was in a panic,
while the fearful intelligence, "The Cossacks are coming, the Cossacks
are marching on Paris!" was overrunning the city. "The Grand-duke
Constantine has promised his troops that they shall warm themselves at
the burning ruins of Paris, and the Emperor Alexander has sworn that he
will sleep in the Tuileries."
Nothing was now dreamed of but plundering, murder, and rapine; people
trembled not only for their lives, but also for their property, and
hastened to bury their treasures, their jewelry, their gold and silver,
to secure it from the rapacious hands of the terrible Cossacks.
Treasures were buried in cellars, or hid away in the walls of houses.
The Duchess de Bassano caused all her valuable effects to be put in a
hidden recess, and the entrance to the same to be walled up and covered
with paper. There were among these valuable effects several large
clocks, in golden cases, that were richly studded with precious stones,
but it had unfortunately been forgotten to stop them, so that for the
next week they continued to strike the hours regularly, and thereby
betrayed to the neighbors the secret the duchess had so anxiously
endeavored to conceal.
But the cry, "The Cossacks are coming!" was not the only alarm-cry of
the Parisians. Another, and a long-silent cry, was now heard in Paris--a
strange cry, that had no music for the ear of the imperialist, but one
that, to the royalist, had a sweet and familiar sound. This cry was,
"The Count de Lille!" or, as the royalists said, "King Louis XVIII." The
royalists no longer whispered this name, but proclaimed it loudly and
with enthusiasm, and even those of them who had attached themselves to
the imperial court, and played a part at the same, now dared to remove
their masks a little, and show their true countenance.
Madame Ducayla, one of the most zealous royalists, although attached to
the court society of the Tuileries, had gone to Hartwell, to convey to
him messages of love and respect in the name of all the royalists of
Paris, and to tell him that they had now begun to smooth the way for his
return to France and the throne of his ancestors. She had returned with
authority to organize the conspiracy of the royalists, and to give them
the king's sanction. Talleyrand, the minister of Napoleon, the
glittering weathercock in politics, had already experienced a change in
disposition, in consequence of the shifting political wind, and when
Countess Ducayla, provided with secret instructions for Talleyrand from
Louis XVIII., entered his cabinet and said in a loud voice, "I come from
Hartwell, I have seen the king, and he has instructed me--" he
interrupted her in loud and angry tones, exclaiming: "Are you mad,
madame? You dare to confess such a crime to me?" He had, however, then
added in a low voice: "You have seen him, then? Well, I am his most
[Footnote 24: Memoires d'une femme de qualite, vol. i., p. 133.]
The royalists held meetings and formed conspiracies with but little
attempt at concealment, and the minister of police, Fouche, whose eyes
and ears were always on the alert, and who knew of everything that
occurred in Paris, also knew of these conspiracies of the royalists; he
did not prevent them, however, but advised caution, endeavoring to
prove to them thereby the deep reverence which he himself experienced
for the unfortunate royal family.
In the midst of all this confusion and anxiety, Queen Hortense alone
preserved her composure and courage, and far from endeavoring, like
others, to conceal and secure her treasures, jewelry, and other
valuables, she determined to make no change or reduction whatever in her
manner of living; she wished to show the Parisians that the confidence
of the imperial family in the emperor and his invincibility was not to
be shaken. She therefore continued to conduct her household in truly
royal style, although she had received from the exhausted state treasury
no payment of the appanage set apart for herself and children for a
period of three months. But she thought little of this; her generous
heart was occupied with entirely different interests than those of her
own pecuniary affairs.
She wished to inspire Marie Louise, whom the emperor had constituted
empress-regent on his departure for the army, with the courage which she
herself possessed. She conjured her to show herself worthy of the
confidence the emperor had reposed in her at this critical time, and to
adopt firm and energetic measures. When, on the 28th of March, the
terror-inspiring news was circulated that the hostile armies were only
five leagues from Paris, and while the people were flying from the city
in troops, Hortense hastened to the Tuileries to conjure the empress to
be firm, and not to leave Paris. She entreated Marie Louise, in the
name of the emperor, her husband, and the King of Rome, her son, not to
heed the voice of the state council, who, after a long sitting, had
unanimously declared that Paris could not be held, and that the empress,
with her son and her council, should therefore leave the capital.
But Marie Louise had remained deaf to all these pressing and energetic
representations, and the queen had not been able to inspire her young
and weak sister-in-law with her own resolution.
"My sister," Hortense had said to her, "you will at least understand
that by leaving Paris now you paralyze its defence, and thereby endanger
your crown, but I see that you are resigned to this sacrifice."
"It is true," Marie Louise had sadly replied. "I well know that I should
act differently, but it is too late. The state council has decided, and
I can do nothing!"
In sadness and dejection Hortense had then returned to her dwelling,
where Lavalette, Madame Ney, and the ladies of her court, awaited her.
"All is lost," said she, sadly. "Yes, all is lost. The empress has
determined to leave Paris. She lightly abandons France and the emperor.
She is about to depart."
"If she does that," exclaimed General Lavalette, in despair, "then all
is really lost, and yet her firmness and courage might now save the
emperor, who is advancing toward Paris by forced marches. After all this
weighing and deliberating, they have elected to take the worst course
they could choose! But, as this has finally been determined on, what
course will your majesty now pursue?"
"I remain in Paris," said the queen, resolutely; "as I am permitted to
be mistress of my own actions, I am resolved to remain here and share
the fortunes of the Parisians, be they good or evil! This is at least a
better and worthier course than to incur the risk of being made a
prisoner on the public highway."
Now that she had come to a decision, the queen exhibited a joyous
determination, and her mind recovered from its depression. She hastened
to dispatch a courier to Malmaison to the Empress Josephine, now
forgotten and neglected by all, to conjure her to leave for Novara at
once. She then retired to her bedchamber to seek the rest she so much
needed after so many hours of excitement.
But at midnight she was aroused from her repose to a sad awakening. Her
husband, with whom she had held no kind of intercourse since his return,
had now, in the hour of danger, determined to assert his marital
authority over his wife and children. He wrote the queen a letter,
requiring her to leave Paris with her children, and follow the empress.
Hortense replied with a decided refusal. A second categoric message from
her husband was the response. He declared that if she should not at once
conform to his will, and follow the empress with her children, he would
immediately take his children into his own custody, by virtue of his
authority as husband and father.
At this threat, the queen sprang up like an enraged lioness from her
lair. With glowing cheeks and sparkling eyes she commanded that her
children should be at once brought to her, and then, pressing her two
boys to her heart with passionate tenderness, she exclaimed: "Tell the
king that I shall leave the city within the hour!"
THE ALLIES IN PARIS.
The anxiety of motherly love had effected what neither the departure of
the empress nor the news of the approach of the Cossacks could do.
Hortense had taken her departure. She had quitted Paris, with her
children and suite, which had already begun to grow sensibly smaller,
and arrived, after a hurried flight, endangered by bands of marauding
Cossacks, in Novara, where the Empress Josephine, with tears of sorrow
and of joy alike, pressed her daughter to her heart. Although her own
happiness and grandeur were gone, and although the misfortunes of the
Emperor Napoleon--whom she still dearly loved--oppressed her heart,
Josephine now had her daughter and dearest friend at her side, and that
was a sweet consolation in the midst of all these misfortunes and cares.
At Novara, Hortense received the intelligence of the fall of the empire,
of the capitulation of Paris, of the entrance of the allies, and of the
abdication of Napoleon.
When the courier sent by the Duke of Bassano with this intelligence
further informed the Empress Josephine that the island of Elba had been
assigned Napoleon as a domicile, and that he was on the point of leaving
France to go into exile, Josephine fell, amid tears of anguish, into her
daughter's arms, crying: "Hortense, he is unhappy, and I am not with
him! He is banished to Elba! Alas! but for his wife, I would hasten to
his side, to share his exile!"
While the empress was weeping and lamenting, Hortense had silently
withdrawn to her apartments. She saw and fully appreciated the
consequences that must ensue to the emperor's entire family, from his
fall; she already felt the mortifications and insults to which the
Bonapartes would now be exposed from all quarters, and she wished to
withdraw herself and children from their influence. She formed a quick
resolve, and determined to carry it out at once. She caused Mademoiselle
de Cochelet, one of the few ladies of her court who had remained
faithful, to be called, in order that she might impart to her her
"Louise," said she, "I intend to emigrate. I am alone and defenceless,
and ever threatened by a misfortune that would be more cruel than the
loss of crown and grandeur--the misfortune of seeing my children torn
from me by my husband. My mother can remain in France--her divorce has
made her free and independent; but I bear a name that will no longer be
gladly heard in France, now that the Bourbons are returning. I have no
other fortune than my diamonds. These I shall sell, and then go, with my
children, to my mother's estate in Martinique. I lived there when a
child, and have retained a pleasant remembrance of the place. It is
undoubtedly hard to be compelled to give up country, mother, and
friends; but one must face these great strokes of destiny courageously.
I will give my children a good education, and that shall be my
Mademoiselle de Cochelet burst into tears, kissed the queen's extended
hand, and begged so earnestly that she might be permitted to accompany
her, that Hortense at last gave a reluctant consent. It was arranged
between them that Louise should hasten to Paris, in order to make the
necessary preparations for the queen's long journey; and she departed on
this mission, under the protection of the courier, on the
How changed and terrible was the aspect Paris presented on her arrival!
At the gate through which they entered Cossacks stood on guard; the
streets were filled with Russian, Austrian, and Prussian soldiery, at
whose side the proud ladies of the Faubourg St. Germain were to be seen
walking, in joyous triumph, bestowing upon the vanquishers of France as
great a devotion as they could have lavished upon the beloved Bourbons
themselves, whose return was expected in a few days.
A Swedish regiment was quartered in the queen's dwelling; her servants
had fled; her glittering drawing-rooms now sheltered the conquerors of
France; and in the Tuileries preparations were already being made for
the reception of the Bourbons.
No one dared to pronounce the name of Napoleon. Those who were formerly
his most zealous flatterers were now the most ready to condemn him.
Those upon whom he had conferred the greatest benefits were now the
first to deny him, hoping thereby to wipe out the remembrance of the
benefits they had received. The most zealous Napoleonists now became the
most ardent royalists, and placed the largest white cockades in their
hats, in order that they might the sooner attract the attention of the
But there was still one man who pronounced the name of Napoleon loudly,
and with affectionate admiration, and publicly accorded him the tribute
of his respect.
This one was the Emperor Alexander of Russia. He had loved Napoleon so
dearly, that even the position of hostility which policy compelled him
to assume could not banish from his heart friendship for the hero who
had so long ruled Europe.
Napoleon's fate was decided; and it was attributable to the zealous
efforts of the czar that the allies had consented to the emperor's
demands, and appointed him sovereign of the island of Elba. Now that
Alexander could do nothing more for Napoleon, he desired to make himself
useful to his family, at least, and thereby testify the admiration which
he still felt for the fallen Titan.
The Empress Marie Louise and the little King of Rome had no need of his
assistance. The empress had not availed herself of the permission of the
allies to accompany her husband to Elba, but had placed herself and son
under the protection of her father, the Emperor of Austria.
The Emperor Alexander therefore bestowed his whole sympathy upon
Napoleon's divorced wife and her children, the Viceroy of Italy and the
Queen of Holland. He took so great an interest in the queen, that he
declared his intention, in case Hortense should not come to Paris, of
going to Novara to see her, in order to learn from her own lips in what
manner he could serve her, and how she desired that her future should
Count Nesselrode, the emperor's minister, was also zealous in his
endeavors to serve the queen. The count had long been the intimate
friend of Louise de Cochelet; and, desirous of giving her a further
proof of his friendship, he knew of no better way of doing so than by
rendering a service to Queen Hortense and her children. Louise informed
the count of the queen's intended departure for Martinique. Count
Nesselrode smiled sadly over this desperate resolve of a brave mother's
heart, and instructed Louise to beg the queen to impart to him, through
her confidante, all her wishes and demands, in order that he might lay
them before the emperor.
The queen's fate was the subject of great sympathy in all quarters.
When, in one of the sessions of the ministers of the allies, in which
the fate of France, of the Bourbons, and of the Bonapartes, was to be
the subject of deliberation, the question of making some provision for
the emperor's family came up for consideration, the prince of Benevento
exclaimed: "I plead for Queen Hortense alone; for she is the only one
for whom I have any esteem." Count Nesselrode added: "Who would not be
proud to claim her as a countrywoman? She is the pearl of her France!"
And Metternich united with the rest in her praise.
[Footnote 25: Cochelet, vol. i., p 279.]
But it was in vain that Louise de Cochelet imparted this intelligence to
the queen; the entreaties and representations of her friends were
powerless to persuade Hortense to leave her retirement and come
The following letter of the queen, written to Louise, concerning her
affairs, will testify to her beautiful and womanly sentiments. This
letter is as follows:
"My dear Louise,--You and all my friends write me the same questions:
'What do you want? What do you demand?' I reply to all of you: I want
nothing whatever! What should I desire? Is not my fate already
determined? When one has the strength to form a great resolution, and
when one can firmly and calmly contemplate the idea of making a journey
to India or America, it is unnecessary to demand any thing of any one. I
entreat you to take no steps that I should be compelled to disavow; I
know that you love me, and this might induce you to do so. I am really
not to be pitied; it was in the midst of grandeur and splendor that I
have suffered! I shall now, perhaps, learn the happiness of retirement,
and prefer it to all the magnificence that once surrounded me. I do not
believe I can remain in France; the lively interest now shown in my
behalf might eventually occasion mistrust. This idea is annihilating; I
feel it, but I shall not willingly occasion sorrow to any one. My
brother will be happy; my mother can remain in her country, and retain
her estates. I, with my children, shall go to a foreign land, and, as
the happiness of those I love is assured, I shall be able to bear the
misfortune that strikes only at my material interests, but not at my
heart. I am still deeply moved and confounded by the fate that has
overtaken the Emperor Napoleon and his family. Is it true? Has all been
finally determined? Write me on this subject. I hope that my children
will not be taken from me; in that case I should lose all courage. I
will so educate them that they shall be happy in any station of life. I
shall teach them to bear fortune and misfortune with equal dignity, and
to seek true happiness in contentment with themselves. This is worth
more than crowns. Fortunately, they are healthy. Thank Count Nesselrode
for his sympathy. I assure you there are days that are properly called
days of misfortune, and that are yet not without a charm; such are those
that enable us to discern the true sentiments people hold toward us. I
rejoice over the affection which you show me, and it will always afford
me gratification to tell you that I return it. HORTENSE."
[Footnote 26: Cochelet, vol. i., pp. 275-277.]
CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN THE QUEEN AND LOUISE DE COCHELET.
In the meanwhile, Hortense was still living with her mother in Novara,
firmly resolved to remain in her retirement, sorrowing over the fate of
the imperial house, but quite indifferent as to her own fate.
But her friends--and even in misfortune Hortense still had friends--and
above all her truest friend, Louise de Cochelet, busied themselves all
the more about her future, endeavoring to rescue out of the general
wreck of the imperial house at least a few fragments for the queen.
Louise de Cochelet was still sojourning in Paris, and the letters which
she daily wrote to the queen at Novara, and in which she informed her of
all that was taking place in the city, are so true a picture of that
strange and confused era, that we cannot refrain from here inserting
some of them.
In one of her first letters Louise de Cochelet relates a conversation
which she had had with Count Nesselrode, in relation to the
"The Bourbons," she writes, "have now been finally accepted. I asked
Count Nesselrode, whom I have just left: 'Do you believe that the queen
will be permitted to remain in France? Will the new rulers consider this
proper?' 'Certainly,' he replied, 'I am sure of it, for we will make it
a condition with them, and without us they would never have come to the
throne at all! It is not the Bourbons, but it is we, it is all Europe,
that arranges and regulates these matters. I therefore trust that they
will never violate the agreement. Rest assured that the Emperor
Alexander will always support the right.'
"All of these strangers here speak of you, madame, with great
enthusiasm. Metternich, who doubtlessly recollects your great kindness
to his wife and children, inquired after you with lively interest.
Prince Leopold is devotedly attached to yourself and the Empress
Josephine, and ardently desires to be able to serve you both. Count
Nesselrode thinks it would be well for you to write to the Emperor
Alexander, as he takes so warm an interest in your affairs.
"The old nobility is already much discontented; it considers itself
debased, because it sees itself mixed with so many new elements."
"Come to Malmaison with the empress," she writes a few days later, "the
Emperor Alexander will then go there at once to meet you; he is anxious
to make your acquaintance, and you already owe him some thanks, as he
devotes himself to your interests as though they were his own. The Duke
of Vicenza, who demeans himself so worthily with regard to the Emperor
Napoleon, requests me to inform you that the future of your children
depends on your coming to Malmaison.
"The Emperor Napoleon has signed an agreement, that secures the future
of all the members of his family; you can remain in France, and retain
your titles. You are to have for yourself and children an income of four
hundred thousand francs.
"It is said here that the Faubourg St. Germain is furious over the
brilliant positions provided for the imperial family and the empress.
This is their gratitude for all her goodness to them.
"You wish to make Switzerland your home. Count Nesselrode thinks you may
be right, that it is a good retreat; but you should not give up the one
you have here, and should in any event retain the right to return
"Fancy, madame, Count Nesselrode insists on my seeing his emperor! I
have not yet consented, because I do not like to do any thing without
your assent; but I confess I long to make his acquaintance. I am made
quite happy by hearing you so well spoken of here.
"Count Nesselrode said to me yesterday: 'Tell the queen that I shall be
happy to fulfil all her wishes, and that I can do so, that I have the
power.' For great security he wishes to have a future assured you that
shall be independent of the treaty. I do not know what to say to him.
Write to me, and demand something, I conjure you!"
The queen's only response to this appeal was a letter addressed to the
Emperor Napoleon, and sent to Count Nesselrode, with the request that it
should be forwarded to its destination.
"It is strange," wrote Louise de Cochelet in relation to this
matter--"strange that all my efforts to serve you here have had no other
result than your sending a commission to Count Nesselrode to forward to
Fontainebleau a letter addressed to the Emperor Napoleon. He at first
thought I was bringing him the letter he had solicited for his emperor;
but he well knows how to appreciate all that is noble and great, and as
he possesses the most admirable tact, he thinks the letter cannot well
reach the emperor through him, and will therefore send it to the Duke of
Vicenza, at Fontainebleau, to be delivered by him to the Emperor
Another letter of Louise de Cochelet is as follows: "I have just seen
Count Nesselrode again; he makes many inquiries concerning you; the
Emperor of Russia now resides on the Elysee Bourbon. The count tells me
a story that is in circulation here, and has reference to the Empress
Marie Louise and the kings her brothers-in-law. They were about to force
her to enter a carriage, in which they were to continue their journey
with her; when she refused to enter, it is said the King of Westphalia
became so violent that he gave her a little beating. She cried for help,
and General Caffarelli, who commanded the guards, came to her
rescue. On the following day she and her son were made prisoners, and
all the crown diamonds in her possession seized by the authorities; but
it seems as though capture was precisely what she wished.
[Footnote 27: According to Napoleon's instructions, his brothers were to
prevent the empress and the King of Rome from falling into the hands of
the enemy. De Baussue narrates this scene in his memoirs, and it is
self-evident that it was not so stormy as the gossip of Paris
"The Queen of Westphalia has just arrived in Paris; the Emperor
Alexander, her cousin, called on her immediately. It is supposed that
she will return to her father.
"Your brothers future is not yet determined on, but it will certainly be
a desirable and worthy one. There are many intrigues going on in
connection with it, as Count Nesselrode informs me. As for the kingdom
of Naples, it is no longer spoken of. By the details of the last war
with us, narrated to me by the count, I see that he despises many of our
ministers and marshals, and that these must be very culpable; and yet he
tells me that they considered the result uncertain a week before our
overthrow; as late as the 10th of March they believed that peace had
been made with Prussia at least.
"Do not grieve over the fate of the emperor on the island of Elba. The
emperor selected it himself; the allies would have preferred any
"All the mails arriving at Paris have been seized by the allies. Among
the letters there was one from the Empress Marie Louise to her husband.
She writes that her son is well, but that on awakening from a good
night's rest he had cried and told her he had dreamed of his father;
notwithstanding all her coaxing and promises of playthings, he had,
however, refused to tell what he had dreamed of his father, and that
this circumstance had made her uneasy in spite of her will.
"Prince Leopold resides in the same house with Countess Tascher; he is
incessantly busied with yours and your mother's affairs; he at least is
not oblivious of the kindness you have both shown him. I know that it is
his intention to speak to the Emperor of Russia, and then write to you.
"All your friends say that you must consider the interest of your
children, and accept the future offered you. M. de Lavalette and the
Duke of Vicenza are also of this opinion. You lose enough without this,
and you may well permit the victors to return a small portion of that
which they have taken from you, and which is rightfully yours.
"In short, all your friends demand that you shall repair to Malmaison as
soon as the Emperor Napoleon shall have departed from Fontainebleau. I
am assured that the Emperor Alexander intends to hunt you up in Novara
if you should not come to Malmaison. It will therefore be impossible to
avoid him. Consider that the fate of your children lies in his hands! In
the treaty of Fontainebleau you and your children were provided for
together; this is a great point for you, and proves how highly you are
"It is to the Emperor of Russia alone that you owe this; and when the
Duke of Vicenza submitted this article of the treaty to the Emperor
Napoleon for his signature, it met with his entire approval. Your sole
and undivided authority over your children is thereby acknowledged. You
should, therefore, not reject the good offered you for your children. I
do not think it would require much persuasion to induce others to accept
that which is tendered you.
"Madame Tascher, who has proved herself to be your true friend and
relative, has just had her first interview with the Duke of Dalberg, the
member of the provisional government. She spoke of you, and I will here
give you his response, word for word: 'She is considered as being
altogether foreign to the Bonaparte family, because she has separated
herself from her husband. She will be the refuge of her children, who
are left to her. She is so dearly beloved and highly esteemed, that she
can be very happy. She can remain in France, and do whatever she
pleases; but she must now return to Paris.' Countess Tascher came to me
immediately after leaving the duke, in order to acquaint me with what
he had said.
"Friends and foes alike say this about you: 'Those who are not delighted
with what is being done for the queen are bad people! And as for her,
what has she to regret in all this? Only the good she has done! Now, the
world will dare to love her, and to express their love; she has so few
wishes, she is so perfect!'
"In short, it would seem almost that the people are pleased with the
misfortune that places you in the right light, and they say, 'She is far
more worthy in herself than when surrounded by a glittering court!'
"Yesterday I saw the new arrivals from Fontainebleau, M. de Lascour and
M. de Lavoestine. They came to me to learn where you were to be found,
and intend visiting you at once, either at Novara or at Malmaison, as
the case may be. These two gentlemen are true knights. 'No matter what
she is to become,' said they; 'we can now show our devotion, without
incurring the risk of being considered flatterers.'
"The last two weeks at Fontainebleau have been a period of the greatest
interest. All these young men, together with M. de Labedoyere and M. de
Montesquieu, wished to accompany the emperor; but he forbade their doing
so, and, in taking leave of them, appealed to them to remain, and to
continue to serve their country zealously.
"Lascour and Lavoestine, together with many other officers of the army,
are much displeased with the generals who left Fontainebleau without
taking leave of the emperor.
"Upon taking leave of the Empress Josephine, the emperor is reported to
have said: 'She was right; my separation from her has brought misfortune
upon my head.'
"It is said that the Duchess of Montebello will leave the Empress Marie
But all these entreaties and flatteries, and these appeals to a mother's
heart, were, as yet, powerless to break the queen's pride. She still
considered it more worthy and becoming to remain away from the city in
which the ladies of the Faubourg St. Germain were celebrating the orgies
of their victorious royalism with the soldiers of the allied armies.
Instead of yielding to Louise de Cochelet's entreaties, the queen wrote
her the following letter:
"My dear Louise,--My resolution gives you pain! You all accuse me of
childish waywardness. You are unjust! My mother can follow the Duke de
Vicenza's counsel; she will go to Malmaison, but _I remain here,_ and I
have good reasons for doing so. I cannot separate my interests from
those of my children. It is they, it is their nearest relatives, who are
being sacrificed by all that is taking place, and I am, therefore,
determined not to approach those who are working our ruin. I must be
saddened by our great misfortune, and I will appear so, and abstain from
approaching those who would still consider me a supplicant, even though
I should demand nothing of them.
"I can readily believe that the Emperor Alexander is kindly disposed
toward me; I have heard much good of him, even from the Emperor
Napoleon. Although I was once anxious to make his acquaintance, I at
this moment have no desire to see him. Is he not our vanquisher? In
their hearts, your friends must all approve of my determination,
whatever they may say. I find retirement congenial. When you have seen
enough of your friends, you will return to me. I am suffering in my
breast, and shall perhaps go to some watering-place. I do not know
whether it is due to the air of Novara, but since I have been here I
cannot breathe. My friends maintain that it is due to the mental shocks
resulting from the great events that have transpired; but they are in
error; death has spared us all, and the loss of a glittering position is
not the greatest loss one can sustain. What personal happiness do I
lose? My brother will, I trust, be well and suitably provided for, and
he will be no longer exposed to danger. He must be very uneasy on our
account, and yet I dare not write to him, as my letters would probably
never reach him; if an opportunity should present itself, please let him
know that we are no longer surrounded by dangers. Adieu. I entreat you
once more to undertake nothing in my behalf. I fear your impetuosity and
friendship, and yet I love to be able to count on you. My children are
well. My mother opposes all my plans; she asserts that she has need of
me; but I shall, nevertheless, go to her who must now be more unhappy
than all of us.
She of whom Hortense thought that she must be more unhappy than all of
them, was the wife of Napoleon, Marie Louise, who had now left Blois, to
which place she had gone as empress-regent, and repaired to Rambouillet,
to await the decision of the allies with regard to the future of herself
and son. It was certainly one of the most peculiar features of this
period, so rich in extraordinary occurrences, to see the sovereigns of
Europe, the overthrown rulers of France, and those who were about to
grasp the sceptre once more, thrown confusedly together in Paris, and
within a circuit of some fifty miles around that city: a Bourbon in the
Tuileries, Bonaparte at Fontainebleau, his wife and his son at
Rambouillet, the divorced empress at Novara, the Emperors of Russia and
Austria, and the King of Prussia, at Paris; moreover, a whole train of
little German potentates and princes, and the Napoleonic kings and
princes, who were all sojourning in Paris or its vicinity.
The Queen of Holland considered it her duty, in these days of misfortune
and danger, to stand at the side of her whom Napoleon had commanded them
to consider the head of the family, and to serve faithfully in life and
death. Hortense therefore determined to go to the Empress Marie Louise
at Rambouillet, in accordance with the emperor's commands.
This determination filled the hearts of the queen's friends with sorrow;
and Louise had no sooner received the letter in which the queen
announced her impending departure, than she hastened to reply, imploring
her to abandon this intention. M. de Marmold, the queen's equerry,
departed with all speed to bring this letter to the queen at Louis,
where she was to pass the night, and to add his entreaties to those
"M. de Marmold, the bearer of this letter, will deliver it to you at
Louis, if he arrives there in good time," wrote Louise de Cochelet. "If
you go to Rambouillet, you will destroy your own position, and also that
of your children; this is the conviction of all your friends. I was so
happy, for Prince Leopold had written you, in the name of the Emperor
Alexander, and begged you to come to Malmaison. You could not have
avoided seeing him, as he would even have gone to Novara. Instead,
however, of returning with the Empress Josephine, you are on the point
of uniting yourself with a family that has never loved you. With them
you will experience nothing but distress, and they will not be thankful
for the sacrifice you are about to make. You will regret this step when
it is too late. I conjure you, do not go to Rambouillet!
"Your course will touch those to whom you are going but little, and will
displease the allies, who take so much interest in you.
"The empress is a thorough Austrian at heart, and the visits of members
of her husband's family are regarded with disfavor. I tell you this at
the request of Prince Leopold and Madame de Caulaincourt. The latter, if
you do not come here soon, will go to you, in spite of her great age.
She conjures you not to go to Rambouillet, as your lady of honor, and
the friend of your mother; she even forbids your doing so.
"When I informed Prince Leopold of your intention to go to the Empress
Marie Louise at Rambouillet, his eyes filled with tears. 'It is
beautiful to be proud,' said he, 'but she can no longer retreat; she is
already under obligations to the Emperor of Russia, who effected the
treaty of the 11th of April. I await her reply, to deliver it to the
emperor: she owes him a reply.'
"I passed an hour with our good friend Lavalette this morning. This
excellent man knew nothing of the measures we have been taking to
persuade you to return, and said to me: 'How fortunate it would be for
her and her children, if the emperor should desire to see her!' Do come,
do come; show your friends this favor; we shall all be in despair if you
go to Rambouillet!
"Prince Leopold will write you a few lines. He could not be more devoted
to yourself and the Empress Josephine if you were his mother and his
sister. Count Tschernitscheff has been to see me. The Emperor of Austria
arrives here to-morrow, and the new French princes and the king will
soon follow. What a change!
"You must see the Emperor of Russia, because he so much desires it. I
conjure you, on my knees, to do me this favor! The emperor conducts
himself so handsomely that every one is constrained to respect him; one
forgets that he is the conqueror, and can only remember him as the
protector. He seems to be the refuge of all those who have lost all, and
are in distress. His conduct is admirable; he receives none but business
calls, and such others as are absolutely necessary. The fair ladies of
the Faubourg St. Germain cannot boast of his attention to them, and this
does him all the more credit, he being, as it is said, very susceptible
to the fair sex. He told Prince Leopold that he intended going to
Novara, adding: 'You know that I love and esteem this family; Prince
Eugene is the prince of knights; I esteem the Empress Josephine, Queen
Hortense, and Prince Eugene, all the more from the fact that her
demeanor toward the Emperor Napoleon has been so much more noble than
that of so many others, who should have shown him more devotion.' How
could it be possible not to respect a man of such nobility of character?
I trust you will soon have an opportunity of judging of this yourself.
For God's sake, return!
But these entreaties were all in vain. M. de Marmold arrived at Louis in
time to see the queen; he delivered the letters of her friends, and did
all that lay in his power to persuade her not to go to Rambouillet.
But Hortense held firmly to her intention. "You are right," said she.
"All this is true; but I shall, nevertheless, go to the Empress Marie
Louise, for it is my duty to do so. If unpleasant consequences should
result from this step for me, I shall pay no attention to them, but
merely continue to do my duty. Of all of us, the Empress Marie Louise
must be the most unhappy, and must stand most in need of consolation; it
is, therefore, at her side that I can be of most use, and nothing can
alter my determination."
QUEEN HORTENSE AND THE EMPEROR ALEXANDER.
Queen Hortense had gone to Rambouillet, in spite of the entreaties and
exhortations of her friends. The Empress Marie Louise had, however,
received her with an air of embarrassment. She had told the queen that
she was expecting her father, the Emperor of Austria, and that she
feared the queen's presence might make him feel ill at ease. Moreover,
the young empress, although dejected and grave, was by no means so
sorrowful and miserable as Hortense expected. The fate of her husband
had not wounded the heart of Marie Louise as deeply as that of the
Hortense felt that she was not needed there; that the presence of the
Emperor of Austria would suffice to console the Empress of France for
her husband's overthrow. She thought of Josephine, who was so deeply
saddened by Napoleon's fate; and finding that, instead of consoling, she
only embarrassed the Empress Marie Louise, she hastened to relieve her
of her presence.
And now, at last, Hortense bowed her proud, pure heart beneath the yoke
of necessity; now, at last, she listened to the prayers and
representations of her mother, who had returned to Malmaison, and of her
friends, and went to Paris. It had been too often urged upon her that
she owed it to her sons to secure their fortune and future, not to
overcome her personal repugnance, and conform herself to this new
command of duty.
She had, therefore, returned to Paris for a few days, and taken up her
abode in her dwelling, whose present dreariness recalled, with sorrowful
eloquence, the grandeur of the past.
These drawing-rooms, once the rendezvous of so many kings and princes,
were now desolate, and bore on their soiled floors the footprints of the
hostile soldiers who had recently been quartered there. At the czar's
solicitation, they had now been removed; but the queen's household
servants had also left it. Faithless and ungrateful, they had turned
their backs on the setting sun, and fled from the storm that had burst
over the head of their mistress.
The Emperor Alexander hastened to the queen's dwelling as soon as her
arrival in Paris was announced, the queen advancing to meet him as far
as the outermost antechamber.
"Sire," said she, with a soft smile, "I have no means of receiving you
with due ceremony; my antechambers are deserted."
The appearance of this solitary woman, this queen without a crown,
without fortune, and without protection and support, who nevertheless
stood before him in all the charms of beauty and womanhood, a soft smile
on her lips, made a deep impression on the emperor, and his eyes filled
The queen observed this, and hastened to say, "But what of that? I do
not think that antechambers filled with gold-embroidered liveries would
make those who come to see me happier, and I esteem myself happy in
being able to do you the honors of my house alone. I have, therefore,
The emperor took her hand, and, while conducting the queen to her room,
conversed with her, with that soft, sad expression peculiar to him,
lamenting with bitter self-reproaches almost that he was himself, in
part, to blame for the misfortunes that had overtaken the emperor and
his family. He then conjured her to abandon her intention of leaving
France, and to preserve herself for her mother and friends. He told her
that, in abandoning her country, her friends, and her rights, she would
be guilty of a crime against her own children, against her two sons, who
were entitled to demand a country and a fortune at her hands.
The queen, overcome at last by these earnest and eloquent
representations, declared her readiness to remain in France, if the
welfare of her sons should require it.
"Until now," said she, "I had formed all my resolutions with reference
to misfortune. I was entirely resigned, and I never thought of the
possibility of any thing fortunate happening for me; and even yet, I do
not know what I can desire and demand. I am, however, determined to
accept nothing for myself and children that would be unworthy of us, and
I do not know what that could be."
With an assuring smile, the emperor extended his hand to the queen.
"Leave that to me," said he. "It is, then, understood, you are to remain
"Sire, you have convinced me that the future of my sons requires it. I
shall therefore remain."
THE NEW UNCLES.
Malmaison, to which place Hortense had returned after a short stay in
Paris, and where the Empress Josephine was also sojourning, was a kind
of focus for social amusement and relaxation for the sovereigns
assembled in Paris. Each of these kings and princes wished to pay his
homage to the Empress Josephine and her daughter, and thereby, in a
measure, show the last honors to the dethroned emperor.
On one occasion, when the King of Prussia, with his two sons, Prince
Frederick William (the late king) and William, had come to Malmaison,
and announced their desire to call on the empress, she sent them an
invitation to a family dinner, at which she also invited the Emperor of
Russia and his two brothers to attend.
The emperor accepted this invitation, and on entering, with the young
archdukes, the parlor in which the Duchess de St. Leu was sitting, he
took his two brothers by the hand and conducted them to Hortense.
"Madame," said he, "I confide my brothers to your keeping. They are now
making their _debut_ in society. My mother fears their heads may be
turned by the beauties of France; and in bringing them to Malmaison,
where so many charming persons are assembled, I am certainly fulfilling
my promise to preserve them from such a fate but poorly."
"Reassure yourself, sire," replied the queen, gravely; "I will be their
mentor, and I promise you a motherly surveillance."
The emperor laughed, and, pointing to Hortense's two sons, who had just
been brought in, he said: "Ah, madame, it would be much less dangerous
for my brothers if they were of the age of these boys."
He approached the two boys with extended hands, and while conversing
with them in a kindly and affectionate manner, addressed them with the
titles "monseigneur" and "imperial highness."
The children regarded him wonderingly, for the Russian emperor was the
first to address the little Napoleon and his younger brother, Louis
Napoleon, with these imposing titles. The queen had never allowed them
to be called by any but their own names. She wished to preserve them
from vain pride, and teach them to depend on their own intrinsic merit.
Shortly afterward the King of Prussia and his sons were announced, and
the emperor and his brothers left the young princes, and advanced to
meet the king.
While the emperor and the king were exchanging salutations, Hortense's
two sons inquired of their governess the names of the gentlemen who had
"It is the King of Prussia," whispered the governess; "and the gentleman
who has just spoken with you is the Emperor of Russia."
The little Louis Napoleon regarded the tall figures of those princes
thoughtfully for a moment, by no means impressed by their imposing
titles. He was so accustomed to see his mother surrounded by kings, and
these kings had always been his uncles.
"Mademoiselle," said the little Louis Napoleon, after a short pause,
"are these two new gentlemen, the emperor and the king, also our uncles,
like all the others and must we call them so?"
"No, Louis, you must simply call them 'sire.'"
"But," said the boy, after a moment's reflection, "why is it that they
are not our uncles?"
The governess withdrew with the two children to the back of the parlor,
and explained to them, in a low voice, that the emperors and kings then
in Paris, far from being their uncles, were their vanquishers.
"Then," exclaimed the elder boy, Napoleon Louis, his face flushing with
anger, "then they are the enemies of my uncle, the emperor! Why did this
Emperor of Russia embrace us?"
"Because he is a noble and generous enemy, who is endeavoring to serve
you and your mother in your present misfortune. Without him you would
possess nothing more in the world, and the fate of your uncle, the
emperor, would be much sadder than it already is."
"Then we ought to love this emperor very dearly?" said the little Louis
"Certainly; for you owe him many thanks."
The young prince regarded the emperor, who was conversing with the
empress Josephine, long and thoughtfully.
When the emperor returned to Malmaison on the following day, and while
he was sitting at his mother's side in the garden-house, little Louis
Napoleon, walking on tiptoe, noiselessly approached the emperor from
behind, laid a small glittering object in his hand, and ran away.
The queen called him back, and demanded with earnest severity to know
what he had done.
The little prince returned reluctantly, hanging his head with
embarrassment, and said, blushing deeply: "Ah, _maman,_ it is the ring
Uncle Eugene gave me. I wished to give it to the emperor, because he is
so good to my _maman_!"
Deeply touched, the emperor took the boy in his arms, seated him on his
knees, and kissed him tenderly.
Then, in order to give the little prince an immediate reward, he
attached the ring to his watch-chain, and swore that he would wear the
token as long as he lived.
[Footnote 28: Cochelet, vol. i., p. 355.]
DEATH OF THE EMPRESS JOSEPHINE.
Since Napoleon's star had grown pale, and himself compelled to leave
France as an exile, life seemed to Josephine also to be enveloped in a
gloomy mourning-veil; she felt that her sun had set, and night come upon
her. But she kept this feeling a profound secret, and never allowed a
complaint or sigh to betray her grief to her tenderly-beloved daughter.
Her complaints were for the emperor, her sighs for the fate of her
children and grandchildren. She seemed to have forgotten herself; her
wishes were all for others. With the pleasing address and grace of which
age could not deprive her, she did the honors of her house to the
foreign sovereigns in Malmaison, and assumed a forced composure, in
which her soul had no share. She would have preferred to withdraw with
her grief to the retirement of her chambers, but she thought it her duty
to make this sacrifice for the welfare of her daughter and
grandchildren; and she, the loving mother, could do what Hortense's
pride would not permit--she could entreat the Emperor Alexander to take
pity on her daughter's fate.
When, therefore, the czar had finally succeeded in establishing her
future, and had received the letters-patent which secured to the queen
the duchy of St. Leu Alexander hastened to Malmaison, to communicate
this good news to the Empress Josephine.
She did not reward him with words, but with gushing tears, as she
extended to the emperor both hands. She then begged him, with touching
earnestness, to accept from her a remembrance of this hour.
The emperor pointed to a cup, on which a portrait of Josephine was
painted, and begged her to give him that.
"_No_, sire," said she; "such a cup can be bought anywhere. But I wish
to give you something that cannot be had anywhere else in the world,
and that will sometimes remind you of me. It is a present that I
received from Pope Pius VII., on the day of my coronation. I present you
with this token in commemoration of the day on which you bring my
daughter the ducal crown, in order that it may remind you of mother and
daughter alike--of the dethroned empress and of the dethroned queen."
This present, which she now extended to the emperor with a charming
smile, was an antique cameo, of immense size, and so wondrously-well
executed that the empress could well say its equal was nowhere to be
found in the world. On this cameo the heads of Alexander the Great and
of his father, Philip of Macedonia, were portrayed, side by side; and
the beauty of the workmanship, as well as the size of the stone, made
this cameo a gem of inestimable value. And for this reason the emperor
at first refused to accept this truly imperial present, and he yielded
only when he perceived that his refusal would offend the empress, who
seemed to be more pale and irritable than usual.
Josephine was, in reality, sadder than usual, for the royal family of
the Bourbons had on this day caused her heart to bleed anew. Josephine
had read an article in the journals, in which, in the most contemptuous
and cruel terms, attention was called to the fact that the eldest son of
the Queen of Holland had been interred in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame,
and that the Minister Blacas had now issued an order to have the coffin
removed from its resting-place, and buried in an ordinary grave-yard.
Hortense, who had read this article, had hastened to Paris, in order
that she might herself superintend the removal of the body of her
beloved child from Notre-Dame, and its reinterment in the Church of
While she informed the emperor of this new insult, Josephine's whole
figure trembled, and a deathly pallor overspread her countenance.
Josephine lacked the strength to conceal her sufferings to-day, for the
first time; Hortense was not present, and she might therefore, for once,
allow herself the sad consolation of showing, bereft of its smile and
its paint, the pale countenance, which death had already
"Your majesty is ill!" exclaimed the emperor, in dismay.
With a smile, which brought tears to Alexander's eyes, Josephine pointed
to her breast, and whispered: "Sire, I have received the
Yes, she was right; she had received a fatal wound, and her heart was
bleeding to death.
Terrified by Josephine's condition, the emperor hurried to Paris, and
sent his own physician to inquire after her condition. When the latter
returned, he informed the emperor that Josephine was dangerously ill,
and that he did not believe her recovery possible.
He was right, and Alexander saw the empress no more! Hortense and
Eugene, her two children, held a sad watch at their mother's bedside
throughout the night. The best physicians were called in, but these
only confirmed what the Russian physician had said--the condition of the
empress was hopeless. Her heart was broken! With strong hands, she had
held it together as long as her children's welfare seemed to require.
Now that Hortense's future was also assured--now that she knew that her
grandchildren would, at least, not be compelled to wander about the
world as exiled beggars--now Josephine withdrew her hands from her
heart, and suffered it to bleed to death.
On the 29th of May, 1814, the Empress Josephine died, of an illness
which had apparently lasted but two days. Hortense had not heard her
mother's death-sigh; when she re-entered the room with Eugene, after her
mother had received the sacrament from Abbe Bertrand--when she saw her
mother, with outstretched arms, vainly endeavoring to speak to
them--Hortense fainted away at her mother's bedside, and the empress
breathed her last sigh in Eugene's arms.
The intelligence of the death of the empress affected Paris profoundly.
It seemed as though all the city had forgotten for a day that Napoleon
was no longer the ruler of France, and that the Bourbons had reascended
the throne of their fathers. All Paris mourned; for the hearts of the
French people had not forgotten this woman, who had so long been their
benefactress, and of whom each could relate the most touching traits of
goodness, of generosity, and of gentleness.
Josephine, now that she was dead, was once more enthroned as empress in
the hearts of the French people and thousands poured into Malmaison, to
pay their last homage to their deceased empress. Even the Faubourg St.
Germain mourned with the Parisians; these haughty and insolent
royalists, who had returned with the Bourbons, may, perhaps, for a
moment, have recalled the benefits which the empress had shown them,
when, as the mighty Empress of France, she employed the half of her
allowance for the relief of the emigrants. They had returned without
thinking of the thanks they owed their forgotten benefactress; now that
she was dead, they no longer withheld the tribute of their admiration.
"Alas!" exclaimed Madame Ducayla, the king's friend; "alas! how
interesting a lady was this Josephine! What tact, what goodness! How
well she knew how to do everything! And she shows her tact and good
taste to the last, in dying just at this moment!"
Immediately after the death of the empress, Eugene had conducted the
queen from the death-chamber, almost violently, and had taken her and
her children to St. Leu. The body of the empress was interred in
Malmaison, and followed to the grave by her two grandchildren only.
Grief had made both of her children severely ill, and the little princes
were followed, not by her relatives, but by the Russian General Von
Sacken, who represented the emperor, and by the equipages of all those
kings and princes who had helped to hurl the Bonapartes from their
thrones and restore the Bourbons.
The emperor passed his last night in France, before leaving for
England, at St. Leu; and, on taking leave of Eugene and Hortense, who,
at the earnest solicitation of her brother, had left her room for the
first time since her mother's death, for the purpose of seeing the
emperor, he assured them of his unchangeable friendship and attachment.
As he knew that, among those whom he strongly suspected, Pozzo di
Borgo, the ambassador he left behind him in Paris, was an
irreconcilable enemy of Napoleon and his family, he had assigned to duty
at the embassy as _attache_, a gentleman selected for this purpose by
Louise de Cochelet--M. de Boutiakin--and it was through him that the
emperor directed that the letters and wishes of the queen and of her
faithful young lady friend should be received and answered.
[Footnote 29: Upon receiving the intelligence of the death of the
emperor at St. Helena, Pozzo di Borgo said: "I did not kill him, but I
threw the last handful of earth on his coffin, in order that he might
never rise again."]
A few days later Eugene also left St. Leu and his sister Hortense, to
return, with the King of Bavaria, to his new home in Germany. It was not
until his departure that Hortense felt to its full extent the gloomy
loneliness and dreary solitude by which she was surrounded. She had not
wept over the downfall of all the grandeur and magnificence by which she
had formerly been surrounded; she had not complained when the whirlwind
of fate hurled to the ground the crowns of all her relations, but had
bowed her head to the storm with resignation, and smiled at the loss of
her royal titles; but now, as she stood in her parlor at St. Leu and saw
none about her but her two little boys and the few ladies who still
remained faithful--now, Hortense wept.
"Alas!" she cried, bursting into tears, as she extended her hand to
Louise de Cochelet, "alas! my courage is at an end! My mother is dead,
my brother has left me, the Emperor Alexander will soon forget his
promised protection, and I alone must contend, with my two children,
against all the annoyances and enmities to which the name I bear will
subject me! I fear I shall live to regret that I allowed myself to be
persuaded to abandon my former plan. Will the love I bear my country
recompense me for the torments which are in store for me?"
The queen's dark forebodings were to be only too fully realized. In the
great and solemn hour of misfortune, Fate lifts to mortal vision the
veil that conceals the future, and, like the Trojan prophetess, we see
the impending evil, powerless to avert it.
THE RETURN OF THE BOURBONS.
On the 12th of April, Count d'Artois, whom Louis XVIII. had sent in
advance, and invested with the dignity of a lieutenant-general of
France, made his triumphal entry into Paris. At the gates of the city,
he was received by the newly-formed provisional government, Talleyrand
at its head; and here it was that Count d'Artois replied to the address
of that gentleman in the following words: "Nothing is changed in France,
except that from to-day there will be one Frenchman more in the land."
The people received him with cold curiosity, and the allied troops
formed a double line for his passage to the Tuileries, at which the
ladies of the Faubourg St. Germain, adorned with white lilies and white
cockades, received him with glowing enthusiasm. Countess Ducayla,
afterward the well-known friend of Louis XVIII., had been one of the
most active instruments of the restoration, and she it was who had first
unfolded again in France the banner of the Bourbons--the white flag. A
few days before the entrance of the prince, she had gone, with a number
of her royalist friends, into the streets, in order to excite the people
to some enthusiasm for the legitimate dynasty. But the people and the
army had still preserved their old love for the emperor, and the
proclamation of Prince Schwartzenberg, read by Bauvineux in the streets,
was listened to in silence. True, the royalists cried, _"Vive le roi!"_
at the end of this reading, but the people remained indifferent
This sombre silence alarmed Countess Ducayla; it seemed to indicate a
secret discontent with the new order of things. She felt that this
sullen people must be inflamed, and made to speak with energy and
distinctness. To awaken enthusiasm by means of words and proclamations
had been attempted in vain; now the countess determined to attempt to
arouse them by another means--to astonish them by the display of a
striking symbol--to show them the white flag of the Bourbons!
She gave her companion, Count de Montmorency, her handkerchief, that he
might wave it aloft, fastening it to the end of his cane, in order that
it should be more conspicuous. This handkerchief of Countess Ducayla,
fastened to the cane of a Montmorency, was the first royalist banner
that fluttered over Paris, after a banishment of twenty years. The
Parisians looked at this banner with a kind of reverence and shuddering
wonder; they did not greet it with applause; they still remained silent,
but they nevertheless followed the procession of royalists, who marched
to the boulevards, shouting, _"Vive le roi!"_ They took no part in their
joyful demonstration, but neither did they attempt to prevent it.
This demonstration of the royalists, and particularly of the royalist
ladies, transcended the bounds of propriety, and of their own dignity.
In their fanaticism for the legitimate dynasty, they gave the allies a
reception, which almost assumed the character of a declaration of love,
on the part of the fair ladies of the Faubourg St. Germain, for all the
soldiers and officers of the allied army. In a strange confusion of
ideas, these warriors, who had certainly entered France as enemies,
seemed to these fair ones to be a part of the beloved Bourbons; and they
loved them with almost the same love they lavished upon the royal family
itself. During several days they were, in their hearts, the daughters of
all countries except their own!
Louis XVIII. was himself much displeased with this enthusiasm of the
ladies of the Faubourg St. Germain, and openly avowed to Countess
Ducayla his dissatisfaction with the ridiculous and contemptible
behavior of these ladies at that time. He was even of the opinion that
it was calculated to injure his cause, as the nation had then not yet
pronounced in his favor.
"They should," said he, "have received the allies with a dignified
reserve, without frivolous demonstrations, and without this
inconsiderate devotion. Such a demeanor would have inspired them with
respect for the nation, whereas they now leave Paris with the conviction
that we are still--as we were fifty years ago--the most giddy and
frivolous people of Europe. You particularly, ladies--you have
compromised yourselves in an incomprehensible manner. The allies seemed
to you so lovable _en masse,_ that you gave yourselves the appearance of
also loving them _en detail_; and this has occasioned reports concerning
you which do little honor to French ladies!"
"But, _mon Dieu!_" replied Countess Ducayla to her royal friend, "we
wished to show them a well-earned gratitude for the benefit they
conferred in restoring to us your majesty; we wished to offer them
freely what we, tired of resistance, were at last compelled to accord to
the tyrants of the republic and the sabre-heroes of the empire! None of
us can regret what we have done for our good friends the allies!"
Nevertheless, that which the ladies "had done for their good friends the
allies" was the occasion of many annoying family scenes, and the
husbands who did not fully participate in the enthusiasm of their wives
were of the opinion that they had good cause to complain of their
Count G----, among others, had married a young and beautiful lady a few
days before the restoration. She, in her youthful innocence, was
entirely indifferent to political matters; but her step-father, her
step-mother, and her husband, Count G----, were royalists of the
On the day of the entrance of the allies into Paris, step-father,
step-mother, and husband, in common with all good legitimists, hurried
forward to welcome "their good friends," and each of them returned to
their dwelling with a stranger--the husband with an Englishman, the
step-mother with a Prussian, and the step-father with an Austrian. The
three endeavored to outdo each other in the attentions which they
showered upon the guests they had the good fortune to possess. The
little countess alone remained indifferent, in the midst of the joy of
her family. They reproached her with having too little attachment for
the good cause, and exhorted her to do everything in her power to
entertain the gallant men who had restored to France her king.
The husband requested the Englishman to instruct the young countess in
riding; the marquise begged the Prussian to escort her daughter to the
ball, and teach her the German waltz; and, finally, the marquis, who had
discovered a fine taste for paintings in the Austrian, appealed to this
gentleman to conduct the young wife through the picture-galleries.
In short, every opportunity was given the young countess to commit a
folly, or rather three follies, for she did not like to give the
preference to any one of the three strangers. She was young, and
inexperienced in matters of this kind. Her triple intrigue was,
therefore, soon discovered, and betrayed to her family; and now husband,
step-father, and step-mother, were exasperated. This exceeded even the
demands of their royalism; and they showered reproaches on the head of
the young wife.
"It is not my fault!" cried she, sobbing. "I only did what you
commanded. You ordered me to do everything in my power to entertain
these gentlemen, and I could therefore refuse them nothing."
But there were also cases in which the advances of the enthusiastic
ladies of the Faubourg St. Germain were repelled. Even the high-born and
haughty Marquise M---- was to experience this mortification. She stepped
before the sullen, sombre veterans of the Old Guard of the empire, who
had just allowed Count d'Artois to pass before their ranks in dead
silence. She ardently appealed to their love for the dynasty of their
fathers, and, in her enthusiasm for royalism, went so far as to offer
herself as a reward to him who should first cry _"Vive le roi!"_ But the
faithful soldiers of the emperor stood unmoved by this generous offer,
and the silence remained unbroken by the lowest cry!
The princes who stood at the head of the allied armies were, of course,
the objects of the most ardent enthusiasm of the royalist ladies; but it
was, above all, with them that they found the least encouragement. The
Emperor of Austria was too much occupied with the future of his daughter
and grandson, and the King of Prussia was too grave and severe, to find
any pleasure in the coquetries of women. The young Emperor Alexander of
Russia, therefore, became the chief object of their enthusiasm and love.
But their enthusiasm also met with a poor recompense in this quarter.
Almost distrustfully, the czar held himself aloof from the ladies of the
Faubourg St. Germain; and yet it was they who had decided the fate of
France with him, and induced him to give his vote for the Bourbons; for
until then it had remained undetermined whom the allies should call to
the throne of France.
In his inmost heart, the Emperor of Russia desired to see the
universally-beloved Viceroy of Italy, Eugene Beauharnais, elevated to
the vacant throne. The letter with which Eugene replied to the
proposition of the allies, tendering him the ducal crown of Genoa, had
won for Josephine's son the love and esteem of the czar for all time.
Alexander had himself written to Eugene, and proffered him, in the name
of the allies, a duchy of Genoa, if he would desert Napoleon, and take
sides with the allies. Eugene Beauharnais had replied to him in the
* * * * *
"SIRE,--I have received your majesty's propositions. They are
undoubtedly very favorable, but they are powerless to change my
resolution. I must have known how to express my thoughts but poorly when
I had the honor of seeing you, if your majesty can believe that I could
sully my honor for any, even the highest, reward. Neither the prospect
of possessing the crown of the duchy of Genoa, nor that of the kingdom
of Italy, can induce me to become a traitor. The example of the King of
Naples cannot mislead me; I will rather be a plain soldier than a
"The emperor, you say, has done me injustice; I have forgotten it; I
only remember his benefits. I owe all to him--my rank, my titles, and
my fortune, and I owe to him that which I prefer to all else--that which
your indulgence calls my renown. I shall, therefore, serve him as long
as I live; my person is his, as is my heart. May my sword break in my
hands, if it could ever turn against the emperor, or against France! I
trust that my well-grounded refusal will at least secure to me the
respect of your imperial majesty. I am, etc."
* * * * *
The Emperor of Austria, on the other hand, ardently desired to secure
the throne of France to his grandson, the King of Rome, under the
regency of the Empress Marie Louise; but he did not venture to make this
demand openly and without reservation of his allies, whose action he had
promised to approve and ratify. The appeals of the Duke of Cadore, who
had been sent to her father by Marie Louise from Blois, urging the
emperor to look after her interests, and to demand of the allies that
they should assure the crown to herself and son, were, therefore,
The emperor assured his daughter's ambassador that he had reason to hope
for the best for her, but that he was powerless to insist on any action
in her behalf.
"I love my daughter," said the good emperor, "and I love my son-in-law,
and I am ready to shed my heart's blood for them."
"Majesty," said the duke, interrupting him, "no such sacrifice is
required at your hands."
"I am ready to shed my blood for them," continued the emperor, "to
sacrifice my life for them, and I repeat it, I have promised the allies
to do nothing except in conjunction with them, and to consent to all
they determine. Moreover, my minister, Count Metternich, is at this
moment with them, and I shall ratify everything which he has
[Footnote 30: Bourrienne, vol. x., p. 129.]
But the emperor still hoped that that which Metternich should sign for
him, would be the declaration that the little King of Rome was to be the
King of France.
But the zeal of the royalists was destined to annihilate this hope.
The Emperor of Russia had now taken up his residence in Talleyrand's
house. He had yielded to the entreaties of the shrewd French diplomat,
who well knew how much easier it would be to bend the will of the
Agamemnon of the holy alliance to his wishes, when he should have
him in hand, as it were, day and night. In offering the emperor his
hospitality, it was Talleyrand's intention to make him his prisoner,
body and soul, and to use him to his own advantage.
[Footnote 31: Memoires d'une Femme de Qualite.]
It was therefore to Talleyrand that Countess Ducayla hastened to concert
measures with the Bonapartist of yesterday, who had transformed himself
into the zealous legitimist of to-day.
Talleyrand undertook to secure the countess an audience with the Russian
emperor, and he succeeded.
While conducting the beautiful countess to the czar's cabinet,
Talleyrand whispered in her ear: "Imitate Madame de Lemalle--endeavor
to make a great stroke. The emperor is gallant, and what he denies to
diplomacy he may, perhaps, accord to the ladies."
He left her at the door, and the countess entered the emperor's cabinet
alone. She no sooner saw him, than she sank on her knees, and stretched
out her arms.
With a knightly courtesy, the emperor immediately hastened forward to
assist her to rise.
"What are you doing?" asked he, almost in alarm. "A noble lady never has
occasion to bend the knee to a cavalier."
"Sire," exclaimed the countess, "I kneel before you, because it is my
purpose to implore of your majesty the happiness which you alone can
restore to us; it will be a double pleasure to possess Louis XVIII. once
more, when Alexander I. shall have given him to us!"
"Is it then true that the French people are still devoted to the Bourbon
"Yes, sire, they are our only hope; on them we bestow our whole love!"
"Ah, that is excellent," cried Alexander; "are all French ladies filled
with the same enthusiasm as yourself, madame?"
"Well, if this is the case, it will be France that recalls Louis XVIII.,
and it will not be necessary for us to conduct him back. Let the
legislative bodies declare their will, and it shall be done."
[Footnote 32: Memoires d'une Femme de Qualite, vol. i., p. 179.]
And of all women, Countess Ducayla was the one to bring the legislative
bodies to the desired declaration. She hastened to communicate the hopes
with which the emperor had inspired her to all Paris; on the evening
after her interview with the emperor, she gave a grand _soiree_, to
which she invited the most beautiful ladies of her party, and a number
"I desired by this means," says she in her memoirs, "to entrap the
gentlemen into making a vow. How simple-minded I was! Did I not know
that the majority of them had already made and broken a dozen vows?"
On the following day the senate assembled, and elected a provisional
government, consisting of Talleyrand, the Duke of Dalberg, the Marquis
of Jancourt, Count Bournonville, and the Abbe Montesquieu. The senate
and the new provisional government thereupon declared Napoleon deposed
from the throne, and recalled Louis XVIII. But while the senate thus
publicly and solemnly proclaimed its legitimist sentiments in the name
of the French people, it at the same time testified to its own
unworthiness and selfishness. In the treaty made by the senate with its
recalled king, it was provided in a separate clause, "that the salary
which they had hitherto received, should be continued to them for life."
While recalling Louis XVIII., these senators took care to pay themselves
for their trouble, and to secure their own future.
THE BOURBONS AND THE BONAPARTES.
The allies hastened to consider the declaration of the senate and
provisional government as the declaration of the people, and recalled to
the throne of his fathers Louis XVIII., who, as Count de Lille, had so
long languished in exile at Hartwell.
The Emperor of Austria kept his word; he made no resistance to the
decrees of his allies, and allowed his grandson, the King of Rome, to be
robbed of his inheritance, and the imperial crown to fall from his
daughter's brow. The Emperor Francis was, however, as much astonished at
this result as Marie Louise, for, until their entrance into Paris, the
allies had flattered the Austrian emperor with the hope that the crown
of France would be secured to his daughter and grandson. The emperor's
astonishment at this turn of affairs was made the subject of a
caricature, which, on the day of the entrance of Louis XVIIL, was
affixed to the same walls on which Chateaubriand's enthusiastic
_brochure_ concerning the Bourbons was posted. In this caricature, of
which thousands of copies were sown broadcast throughout Paris, the
Emperor of Austria was to be seen sitting in an elegant open carriage;
the Emperor Alexander sat on the coachman's box, the Regent of England
as postilion on the lead-horse, and the King of Prussia stood up behind
as a lackey. Napoleon ran along on foot at the side of the carriage,
holding fast to it, and crying out to the Emperor of Austria,
"Father-in-law, they have thrown me out"--"And _taken me in_," was the
reply of Francis I.
The exultation of the ladies of the Faubourg St. Germain was great, now
that their king was at last restored to them, and they eagerly embraced
every means of showing their gratitude to the Emperor of Russia. But
Alexander remained entirely insusceptible to their homage; he even went
so far as to avoid attending the entertainments given by the new king at
the Tuileries, and society was shocked at seeing the emperor openly
displaying his sympathy for the family of the Emperor Napoleon, and
repairing to Malmaison, instead of appearing at the Tuileries.
Count Nesselrode at last conjured his friend Louise de Cochelet to
inform the czar of the feeling of dismay that pervaded the Faubourg St.
Germain, when he should come to Queen Hortense's maid-of-honor, as he
was in the habit of doing from time to time, for the purpose of
discussing the queen's interests with her.
"Sire," said she to the czar, "the Faubourg St. Germain regards your
majesty's zeal in the queen's behalf with great jealousy. It has even
caused Count Nesselrode much concern. 'Our emperor,' said he to me,
recently, 'goes to Malmaison much too often; the high circles of
society, and the diplomatic body, are already in dismay about it; it is
feared that he is there subjected to influences to which policy
requires he should not be exposed.'"
"This is characteristic of my Nesselrode," replied the emperor,
laughing, "he is so easily disquieted. What do I care for the Faubourg
St. Germain? It speaks ill enough for these ladies that they have not
made a conquest of me! I prefer the noble qualities of the soul to all
outward appearances; and I find united in the Empress Josephine, in the
Queen of Holland, and in Prince Eugene, all that is admirable and
lovable. I am better pleased to be here with you in quiet, confidential
intercourse, than with those who really demean themselves as though they
were crazed, and who, instead of enjoying the triumph we have prepared
for them, are only intent on destroying their enemies, and have
commenced with those who formerly accorded them such generous
protection; they really weary one with their extravagances.
"Frenchwomen are coquettish," said the emperor in the course of the
conversation; "I came here in great fear of them, for I knew how far
their amiability could extend; but their heart is undoubtedly no longer
their own. I am therefore on my guard against being deceived by it, and
I fancy these ladies love to please so well, that they are even angry
with those who respond to the attentions which are so lavishly showered
on them, with conventional politeness only."
Louise de Cochelet undertook to defend the French ladies against the
emperor's attacks. She told him he should not judge of them by the
manner in which they had conducted themselves toward him, as it was but
natural that the ladies should be inspired with enthusiasm for a young
emperor who appeared to them in so favorable a light, and that they must
necessarily, even without being coquettish, ardently desire to be
noticed by him.
"But," said the emperor, with his soft, sad smile, "have these ladies
only been waiting for me in order to feel their heart palpitate? I seek
mind and entertainment, but I fly from all those who display a desire to
exercise a control over my heart; in this I see nothing but self-love,
and I hold myself aloof from such contact."
While the royalists and the ladies of the Faubourg St. Germain were
lavishing attentions upon the allies, and assuring the returned king of
the boundless delight of his people, this people was already beginning
to grumble. The allies had now completed their task, they had restored
to France its legitimate king, and they now put the finishing-touch to
their work by providing in the treaty, that France should be narrowed
down to the boundaries it had had before the revolution.
France was compelled to conform to the will of its vanquishers. From the
weakness of the legitimists they now snatched that which they had been
compelled to accord to the strength of the empire.
All of those fortified places, that had been bought with so much French
blood, and that were still held by Frenchmen, were to be given up, and
the great, extended France was to shrink back into the France it had
been thirty years before! It was this that made the people murmur. The
Frenchmen who had left Napoleon because they had grown weary of endless
wars, were, nevertheless, proud of the conquests they had made under
their emperor. The surrender of these conquests wounded the national
pride, and they were angry with their king for being so ready to put
this shame upon France--for holding the crown of France in higher
estimation than the honor of France!
It must be conceded, however, that Louis XVIII. had most bitterly felt
the disgrace that attached to him in this re-establishment of France
within its ancient boundaries, and he had endeavored to protest in every
way against this demand of the allies. But his representative had been
made to understand that if Louis XVIII. could not content himself with
the France the allies were prepared to give him, he was at liberty to
relinquish it to Marie Louise. The king was, therefore, compelled to
yield to necessity; but he did so with bitter mortification, and while
his courtiers were giving free rein to their enthusiasm for the allies,
he was heard to whisper, "_Nos chers amis les ennemis_!"
[Footnote 33: "Our dear friends the enemies!"]
Thus embittered against the allies, it was only with great reluctance,
and after a long and bitter struggle, that Louis XVIII. consented to the
demands made by the allies in behalf of the family of Napoleon. But the
Emperor Alexander kept his word; he defended the rights of the Queen of
Holland and her children against the ill-will of the Bourbons, the
dislike of the royalists, and the disinclination of the allies, alike.
The family of the emperor owed it to him and to his firmness alone that
the article of the treaty of the 11th of April, in which Louis XVIII.
agreed "that the titles and dignities of all the members of the family
of the Emperor Napoleon should be recognized, and that they should not
be deprived of them," remained something more than a mere phrase.
It was only after repeated efforts that the emperor at last succeeded in
obtaining for Hortense, from Louis XVIII., an estate and a title, that
secured her position. King Louis finally yielded to his urgent
solicitations, and conferred upon Hortense the title of Duchess of St.
Leu, and made her estate, St. Leu, a duchy.
But this was done with the greatest reluctance, and only under the
pressure of the king's obligations to the allies, who had given him his
throne; and these obligations the Bourbons would have forgotten as
willingly as the whole period of the revolution and of the empire.
For the Bourbons seemed but to have awakened from a long sleep, and were
not a little surprised to find that the world had progressed in the
According to their ideas, every thing must have remained standing at the
point where they had left it twenty years before; and they were at least
determined to ignore all that had happened in the interval. King Louis
therefore signed his first act as in "the nineteenth" year of his reign,
and endeavored in all things to keep up a semblance of the continuation
of his reign since the year 1789. Hence, the letters-patent in which
King Louis appointed Hortense Duchess of St. Leu were drawn up in a
manner offensive to the queen, for they contained the following: "The
king appoints Mademoiselle Hortense de Beauharnais Duchess of St. Leu."
The queen refused to accept this title, under the circumstances, and
rejected the letters-patent. It was not until the czar had angrily
demanded it, that M. de Blacas, the king's premier, consented to draw up
the letters-patent in a different style. They read: "The king appoints
Hortense Eugenie, included in the treaty of the 11th of April, Duchess
of St. Leu." This was, to be sure, merely a negative and disguised
recognition of the former rank of the queen; but it was, at least no
longer a degradation to accept it.
The Viceroy of Italy, the noble Eugene--who was universally beloved, and
who had come to Paris, at the express wish of the czar, to secure his
future--occasioned the Bourbons quite as much annoyance and perplexity.
The king could not refuse to recognize the brave hero of the empire and
the son-in-law of the King of Bavaria, who was one of the allies; and,
as Eugene desired an audience of the king, it was accorded him at once.
But how was he to be received? With what title was Napoleon's step-son,
the Viceroy of Italy, to be addressed? It would have been altogether too
ridiculous to repeat the absurdity contained in Hortense's
letters-patent, and call Eugene "Viscount de Beauharnais;" but to accord
him the royal title would have compromised the dignity of the
legitimate dynasty. A brilliant solution of this difficult question
suggested itself to King Louis. When the Duke d'Aumont conducted Prince
Eugene to the royal presence, the king advanced, with a cordial smile,
and saluted him with the words, "M. Marshal of France, I am happy to
Eugene, who was on the point of making his salutation, remained silent,
and looked over his shoulder to see whom the king was speaking with.
Louis XVIII. smiled, and continued: "You, my dear sir, are a marshal of
France. I appoint you to this dignity."
"Sire," said Eugene, bowing profoundly, "I am much obliged to your
majesty for your kind intentions, but the misfortune of the rank to
which destiny has called me will not allow me to accept the high title
with which you honor me. I thank you very much, but I must
[Footnote 34: Memoires d'une Femme de Qualite, vol. i., p. 267.]
The king's stratagem had thus come to grief, and Eugene left the royal
presence with flying colors. He was not under the necessity of accepting
benefits from the King of France, for his step-father, the King of
Bavaria, made Eugene a prince of the royal house of Bavaria, and created
for him the duchy of Leuchtenberg. Hither Eugene retired, and lived
there, surrounded by his wife and children, in peace and tranquillity,
until death tore him from the arms of his sorrowing family, in the
MADAME DE STAEL.
The restoration, that had overthrown so many of the great, and that was
destined to restore to the light so many names that had lain buried in
obscurity, now brought back to Paris a person who had been banished by
Napoleon, and who had been adding new lustre and renown to her name in a
foreign land. This personage was Madame de Stael, the daughter of
Necker, the renowned poetess of "Corinne" and "Delphine."
It had been a long and bitter struggle between Madame de Stael and the
mighty Emperor of the French; and Madame de Stael, with her genius and
her impassioned eloquence, and adorned with the laurel-wreath of her
exile, had perhaps done Napoleon more harm than a whole army of his
enemies. Intense hatred existed on both sides, and yet it had depended
on Napoleon alone to transform this hatred into love. For Madame de
Stael had been disposed to lavish the whole impassioned enthusiasm of
her heart upon the young hero of Marengo and Arcola--quite disposed to
become the Egeria of this Numa Pompilius. In the warm impulse of her
stormy imagination, Madame de Stael, in reference to Bonaparte, had
even, in a slight measure, been regardless of her position as a lady,
and had only remembered that she was a poetess, and that, as such, it
became her well to celebrate the hero, and to bestow on the luminous
constellation that was rising over France the glowing dithyrambic of her
Madame de Stael had, therefore, not waited for Napoleon to seek her, but
had made the first advances, and sought him.
To the returning victor of Italy she wrote letters filled with
impassioned enthusiasm; but these letters afforded the youthful general
but little pleasure. In the midst of the din of battle and the grand
schemes with which he was continually engaged, Bonaparte found but
little time to occupy himself with the poetical works of Madame de
Stael. He knew of her nothing more than that she was the daughter of the
minister Necker, and that was no recommendation in Napoleon's eyes, for
he felt little respect for Necker's genius, and even went so far as to
call him the instigator of the great revolution. It was, therefore, with
astonishment that the young general received the enthusiastic letter of
the poetess; and, while showing it to some of his intimate friends, he
said, with a shrug of his shoulders, "Do you understand these
extravagances? This woman is foolish!"
But Madame de Stael did not allow herself to be dismayed by Bonaparte's
coldness and silence--she continued to write new and more
In one of these letters she went so far in her inconsiderate enthusiasm
as to say, that it was a great error in human institutions that the
gentle and quiet Josephine had united her faith with his; that she,
Madame de Stael, and Bonaparte, were born for each other, and that
Nature seemed to have created a soul of fire like hers, in order that it
might worship a hero such as he was.
Bonaparte crushed the letter in his hands, and exclaimed, as he threw it
in the fire: "That a blue-stocking, a manufactress of sentiment, should
dare to compare herself to Josephine! I shall not answer these letters!"
He did not answer them, but Madame de Stael did not, or rather would
not, understand his silence. Little disposed to give up a resolution
once formed, and to see her plans miscarry, Madame de Stael was now also
determined to have her way, and to approach Bonaparte despite his
And she did have her way; she succeeded in overcoming all obstacles, and
the interview, so long wished for by her, and so long avoided by him, at
last took place. Madame de Stael was introduced at the Tuileries, and
received by Bonaparte and his wife. The personal appearance of this
intellectual woman was, however, but little calculated to overcome
Bonaparte's prejudice. The costume of Madame de Stael was on this
occasion, as it always was, fantastic, and utterly devoid of taste, and
Napoleon loved to see women simply but elegantly and tastefully attired.
In this interview with Napoleon, Madame de Stael gave free scope to her
wit; but instead of dazzling him, as she had hoped to do, she only
succeeded in depressing him.
It was while in this frame of mind, and when Madame de Stael, in her
ardor, had endeavored almost to force him to pay her a compliment, that
Napoleon responded to her at least somewhat indiscreet question: "Who is
in your eyes the greatest woman?" with the sarcastic reply, "She who
bears the most children to the state."
Madame de Stael had come with a heart full of enthusiasm; in her address
to Napoleon, she had called him a "god descended to earth;" she had come
an enthusiastic poetess; she departed an offended woman. Her wounded
vanity never forgave the answer which seemed to make her ridiculous. She
avenged herself, in her drawing-room, by the biting _bon mots_ which she
hurled at Napoleon and his family, and which were of course faithfully
repeated to the first consul.
But the weapons which this intellectual woman now wielded against the
hero who had scorned her, wounded him more severely than weapons of
steel or iron. In the use of these weapons, Madame de Stael was his
superior, and the consciousness of this embittered Bonaparte all the
more against the lady, who dared prick the heel of Achilles with the
needle of her wit, and strike at the very point where he was most
A long and severe conflict now began between these two greatest geniuses
of that period, a struggle that was carried on by both with equal
bitterness. But Napoleon had outward power on his side, and could punish
the enmity of his witty opponent, as a ruler.
He banished Madame de Stael from Paris, and soon afterward even from
France. She who in Paris had been so ready to sing the praises of her
"god descended from heaven," now went into exile his enemy and a
royalist, to engage, with all her eloquence and genius, in making
proselytes for the exiled Bourbons, and to raise in the minds of men an
invisible but none the less formidable army against her enemy the
Madame de Stael soon gave still greater weight to the flaming eruptions
of her hatred of Napoleon, by her own increasing renown and greatness;
and the poetess of Corinne and Delphine soon became as redoubtable an
opponent of Napoleon as England, Russia, or Austria, could be.
But in the midst of the triumphs she was celebrating in her exile,
Madame de Stael soon began to long ardently to return to France, which
she loved all the more for having been compelled to leave it. She
therefore used all the influence she possessed in Paris, to obtain from
Napoleon permission to return to her home, but the emperor remained
inexorable, even after having read Delphine.
"I love," said he, "women who make men of themselves just as little as I
love effeminate men. There is an appropriate _role_ for every one in the
world. Of what use is this vagabondizing of fantasy? What does it
accomplish? Nothing! All this is nothing but do rangement of mind and
feeling. I dislike women who throw themselves in my arms, and for this
reason, if for no other, I dislike this woman, who is certainly one of
Madame de Stael's petitions to be permitted to return to Paris were
therefore rejected, but she was as little disposed to abandon her
purpose now as she was at the time she sought to gain Bonaparte's
good-will. She continued to make attempts to achieve her aim, for it was
not only her country that she wished to reconquer, but also a million
francs which she wished to have paid to her out of the French treasury.
Her father, Minister Necker, had loaned his suffering country a million
francs, at a time of financial distress and famine, to buy bread for the
starving people, and Louis XVI. had guaranteed, in writing, that this
"national debt of France" should be returned.
But the revolution that shattered the throne of the unfortunate king,
also buried beneath the ruins of the olden time the promises and oaths
that had been written on parchment and paper.
Madame de Stael now demanded that the emperor should fulfil the promises
of the overthrown king, and that the heir of the throne of the Bourbons
should assume the obligations into which a Bourbon had entered with
She had once called Napoleon a god descended from heaven; and she even
now wished that he might still prove a god for her, namely, the god
Pluto, who should pour out a million upon her from his horn of plenty.
As she could not go to France herself, she sent her son to plead with
the emperor, for herself and her children.
Well knowing, however, how difficult it would be, even for her son to
secure an audience of the emperor, she addressed herself to Queen
Hortense in eloquent letters imploring her to exert her influence in her
Hortense, ever full of pity for misfortune, felt the warmest sympathy
and admiration for the genius of the great poetess, and interceded for
Madame de Stael with great courage and eloquence. She alone ventured,
regardless of Napoleon's frowns and displeasure, to plead the cause of
the poor exile again and again, and to solicit her recall to France, as
a simple act of justice; she even went so far in her generosity as to
extend the hospitalities of her drawing-rooms to the poetess's son, who
was avoided and fled from by every one else.
Hortense's soft entreaties and representations were at last successful
in soothing the emperor's anger. He allowed Madame de Stael to return to
France, on the condition that she should never come to Paris or its
vicinity; he then also accorded Madame de Stael's son the long-sought
favor of an audience.
This interview of Napoleon with Madame de Stael's son is as remarkable
as it is original. On this occasion, Napoleon openly expressed his
dislike and even his hatred as well of Madame de Stael as of her father,
although he listened with generous composure to the warm defence of the
son and grandson.
Young Stael told the emperor of his mother's longing to return to her
home, and touchingly portrayed the sadness and unhappiness of her exile.
"Ah, bah!" exclaimed the emperor, "your mother is in a state of
exaltation. I do not say that she is a bad woman. She has wit, and much
intellect, perhaps too much, but hers is an inconsiderate, an
insubordinate spirit. She has grown up in the chaos of a falling
monarchy, and of a revolution, and she has amalgamized the two in her
mind. This is all a source of danger; she would make proselytes, she
must be watched; she does not love me. The interests of those whom she